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Hank Williams III

Rebel Within – 2010 (Sidewalk)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Hank Williams III

The turbulent 14-year relationship between Hank Williams III and Curb Records ends with this release, and while Williams certainly seizes the opportunity to take one last jab at Curb he also delivers some good tunes on his way out the door.

He kicks it off with Getting Drunk And Falling Down, a straight ahead honky tonk tune in which Williams begins to take a serious look at the consequences of his lifestyle ("Getting drunk and falling down has taken it's toll on me/ I like living life full throttle but now it seems like I'm running out of steam"). This introspection is also present in Lookin' For A Mountain ("Fighting my old demons/ Seems like it's getting harder these days"), and most prominently in #5 in which Williams reflects on losing four friends to drugs and fears he may be next ("Once you're a junkie they say it'll never go away/ But at least I'm gonna try to make it through one more day/ I'm just now starting to tune in to who I'm supposed to be/ So I'm breaking the chains of the needle that's had a hold of me").

Elsewhere the lost love weeper Gone But Not Forgotten, Drinkin' Ain't Hard To Do and Lost In Oklahoma demonstrate Williams' mastery of traditional country, while one of the stronger tracks is the alt.-country ballad Karmageddon in which Williams calmly observes "The end of the world's gonna come today."

There's also a punk edge to the title track, which features largely unintelligible screaming backup vocals, and Tore Up And Loud which ends with Williams screaming a profanity laced farewell to Curb.

Backed nicely throughout, most notably by Johnny Hiland (lead guitar) and Andy Gibson (steel, Dobro), Hank 3's latest has great alt.-country appeal.